Busted! 10 Popular Myths about Japan you should stop believing

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Busted! 10 Popular Myths about Japan you should stop believing
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Japan, a country with a unique culture never fails to fascinate and attract foreign travellers to its land. As much as we heard and learnt about many things about this amazing country from food to bullet trains and cosplay to hot springs, travellers do have moments of surprise when they experience the real Japan.

What exactly is real Japan? Are all we know about Japan really true? Let’s look into some of the popular and common myths that we know.

1. Communication is difficult

Travelling to a place that speaks a language you don’t understand is never easy. So what could you do if you need to inquire about a product or request for room service in Japan?

No need to fly into panic mode – most Japanese understand basic English although their speaking skill may not be proficient. Some restaurants and shops do have English-speaking staffs or an English translation of their products to help foreign travellers to overcome the language barrier.

On top of that, young Japanese people generally understand basic English as they learnt it in school. Hence, using English as a lingua franca in cities is doable. However, if the local that you interact with is of the older generation, their English may be poorer, but nevertheless, they are willing to help you if you are to ask them.

Do use download some useful Japan travel or translation apps into your phone before you travel to Japan. Worst comes to worst, the apps will help! Learn more at: How to Get Around Japan

 2. Travel is expensive

Image credit: hans-johnson on Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Japan. There’s no doubt that accommodation, transportation and food would be the main expenses for you – just like travelling to other places. To reduce your travelling cost, there are budget options like dirt cheap night buses, budget hostels, budget franchise restaurants, and even cheap food from convenience stores and vending machines. It’s all about doing your homework to find out where to get value deals and reduce your travel cost.

Lucky for you, we actually have some information on budget accommodation and reducing daily food cost! Time to plan for a Japan trip!

You may want to also check out:
How to reduce accommodation cost in Japan
Survive in Japan with only 1,000-yen for food each day

3. Japanese often eat sashimi


Consuming raw fish is something foreigners usually associate with Japanese people, due to the popularity of conveyer belt sushi franchise in many countries around the world. Sashimi, one of the raw fish delicacies loved by foreigners is in fact, a celebratory food in Japan. It is not a common dish that an average Japanese family would eat unless there is a reason to celebrate. This is mainly because the price of sashimi is considered expensive for an average Japanese household.

4. You must slurp your noodles

Udon noodles.

Does the phrase, “Slurping noodles is a compliment to the chef!” rings a bell?

Although doing this is a compliment to the chef who prepared the dish, it is not mandatory to eat noodle with a loud slurping sound at a restaurant. Most Japanese themselves don’t slurp noodles for this purpose either, but you could still observe them doing it because it has become a habit to them, and also because the noodles are piping hot – and it makes perfect sense.

5. Japanese food are all healthy

A ready-to-eat bento meal.
Image credit: David Pursehouse on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Surprise! Not all Japanese food is healthy! Some of the sinful deep fried food (agemono) we love eating has the word ‘kaarage’ and ‘tempura.’ There are also instant ready meals which could be easily bought from convenience stores which may be filling for your stomach but contains little vegetables. Besides that, did you know that small portions of Japanese rice is filling for a meal? To avoid gaining excess weight, keep eating lots of vegetable and fruits even when you are travelling in Japan.

6. Japanese love anime

An anime figurine.

Anime has successfully garnered many fans from all over the world. With anime blockbusters like Your Name, Spirited Away and popular anime series like Pikachu and One Piece, it is easy for a foreigner to perceive that Japanese generally loves anime. In reality, anime is one of the hobby and interest for Japanese as it is in other countries. Hence, not all Japanese love anime.

7. Trains are never late

Image credit: hans-johnson on Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Family, friends and acquaintances we know who travelled to Japan were all marvelled by the punctuality and efficiency of Japanese trains. While it is true that trains are very punctual, there are instances where it would arrive earlier or later than the scheduled timetable. There are many reasons for this, such as heavy snow fall, someone trespass the train tracks, or the tracks could be affected by an earthquake.

8. Japan is strange

Characters from Naruto anime.

Crazy game shows, cosplay, and weird commercials are how foreigners perceived Japan from the media. Despite this, Japanese people themselves are actually pretty normal people. The craziness and the weirds things that Japanese do are actually entertainment and fun to relieve themselves from stress and work.

What about cosplay? You might wonder. Cosplay is just a subculture – a community that comes together because of their interest which differs from the majority of a community. Every country has a subculture, so nothing is strange here!

9. Japan is monoculture

You may have heard that Japanese are proud of their unique identity, whether in terms of culture or language. Even so, the young generation of Japanese nowadays watch Western movies and listen to American songs, and not as ‘Japanese’ as you think. Due to the larger population of older generation Japanese in the country today, it seems like they still hold high regard to their culture whether in the workplace or with family, at least from the outside.

10. Japan is small

Japan may look small on the map, but don’t be fooled! For first-time travellers, the first few places you would travel to is Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. After visiting these two places, you would be more adventurous to go to the north and southern tips of Japan which are Hokkaido and Kyushu. Just when you think you have seen it all, you would discover hidden gems of Japan and your list goes on and on! Locations like Mt. Fuji, Kanazawa, Nagasaki and more.

This is why some travellers keep going back to Japan. It’s about discovering authentic Japan and learning about the speciality of each prefecture!

Did your perception of Japan change after learning the truth of these 10 myths? It’s time to discover real Japan!

A fun-loving group of editorial team on the mission to introduce Japanese culture and lifestyle to the masses.

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